My friend Angela recently alerted me to Annabel Smith and Emma Chapman's new meme where every month, they pick a book, and then people do a Six Degrees of Separation post where they connect that book with others they've read. I love this sort of thing, I find these sort of connections fascinating in general but I especially love how one book leads you into another, and making recommendations on that basis. The first book Smith and Chapman have chosen is Hannah Kent's Burial Rites.
Truth be told I haven't actually finished Burial Rites yet, but I thought I'd trace back how I came to it. Several writerly types I respect have raved about it, so it was already on my radar, and as part of my plan to read more new releases I've been keeping an eye on various literary prizes. It was recently shortlisted for the Stella Prize and I was disappointed I'd only read one of the books on that list so far, so I decided to get it ASAP.
The other one on the shortlist was Clare Wright's The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka, which I reviewed recently. This was a great read and, despite them both being very long and quite comprehensive, it pairs well with Peter FitzSimons' Eureka: The Unfinished Revolution. FitzSimons' book was the first one I ever reviewed for something other than my personal blog.
I kinda like the story of how that happened. I had just read JK Rowling's first adult novel, The Casual Vacancy and had reviewed it for shiggles on here. Bookworld ran a competition where the person who submitted the best user review of The Casual Vacancy would win a book of their choosing, so I thought "What the hey" and submitted mine. In the end, not only did I win, but they wanted me to do more reviews - and Eureka was the first one! So I very much fell ass-backwards into it, but it's been quite cool and could lead me to bigger things one day, if I'm lucky.
From The Casual Vacancy, there's really only one way you can go - Harry Potter. I was late to the party, and only picked up Prisoner of Azkaban in 2002 because I was going to be laid up for a while after surgery and I'd read pretty much everything else at my local library - but I am so very glad I did. Not only do I still love the books to this day, but I have found friends through the HP community on the other side of the world that I still talk to, and my generation is full of people with the same story.
From Harry Potter we go to the other major YA series from my tween years, the Animorphs series by KA Applegate. There's not the same level of community with Animorphs, as they never seemed to be particularly popular in Australia when I was growing up - there was one other kid at my school who read them - but I always get a kick when I discover that a new friend has read them. I've gone back and re-read a few of them in later years and while it was totally accessible at the time, looking at it with an adult's eyes you can see just how much work has gone into the science behind the sci-fi, and the philosophy behind the moral grey areas the kids find themselves in. You can also REALLY tell which ones were actually written by Applegate and which were ghost-written while she went off and did her other series.
So anyway, that's my Six Degrees of how I got to Burial Rites. This ended up a bit more personal than I intended, more about me than recommendations, but oh well.